May 16 by The Running Son
The little Urchin Myth, a too short story
by Jim Aldrich
Jill had to be a little shifty to survive, or Jiffy. Like peanut butter. She had a thing for mouths, and roofs.
Roofs make you high. So does compressed air, which she took up with her to her roofs, and sat there thinking bitterly about getting back to… somewhere.
her last move was from a small town, where everybody knew her black hair and her boots. Towns-people had roots. She had Jiffy Lube, and the 7-11 next to it, and miles of trees, like accusations telling her to leave. Pack your trunk, make rings around this place. Dump the bark and crap and make for friendlier pastures than this dark brambly forest, and an a-hole manager at a lube shop. The guy was a jerk, a girl-chopper. But not Ahmed. He was 7-eeeeleven cool, if not a little shaky and tooled up.
So Jill was too traveled-out, and a bit uppity. She was up where she liked to be, high, a bit bitter, slamming canned air and breathing like she ran from Hilltowne to the city, and city roof-tops, for air.
but she left something there in Hilltowne. Damn. A box of tears, and cheep canned air.
The small container, not containing bitter air, was small enough to cradle baby-shoes, and wrapped like a child’s Pandora’s box. with ribbons and color and lots of fingerprints. But, it was hers. and 15,000 miles away, as Jill liked to say. stashed in a half-way house in the loneliest city ever to claim a small black dot on the map. Half-way houses were lonely too. And orphan-ages. and roof-tops.
Beyond claiming blame for hating the world, and all things pink– but loving unicorns, Jill didn’t admit much. even to herself. and Jill certainly didn’t need anyone. Ahmed was nice, but she was never sure if he knew she pinched licorice from the grody plastic things, or slipped power-bars into her bra, and if he wouldn’t jump over the counter at her. For his power-bar i mean, he took that stuff so seriously.
Jill had big problems. Plus she was out of air, on a big roof of a store she knew had big bills. Money that is, dollar bills and 20s and hundreds. And supplies, she needed something to carry her leather-worn black vagabond life in. Plastic bags were nice, shopping carts were not the way to keep mobile.
Jacton-city Hardware. Smack-talk har-har home-base, and corrupting grounds for the owner and a few slack-jaws running stocking duties and making deliveries. They were like a union of idiots. Like laughy, cant-keep-the-snot-in, pumpkinbashers. Jill had a lot of love to give, but would rather keep it safe from this motley pack of elephant children.
But not tonight. Tonight it was all Jill, sitting on a gold-mine of money and new things, pale skin making her glow like a light when she peaked out over the roof edge, and deep into the night like she was looking for the red-eye bus.But not all dreamy fade-outs get answered. A more disturbing thought bubbled up.
Jim Jacton. God she hated names that were snappy. Because Jim wasn’t snappy. or sour like Jill. He was a dufus, a glandular mess, dripping DNA all over that even commercial grade hardware store free chemicals couldn’t sterilize. He was a bobby-boy, a hat wearer, a push-over.
Jill knew she could outrun him, but he had mad bobby-boy strength. Big bumbling arms with powerful swings and bounces about them. The sheer force that club-hand could deliver, even unintentionally, startled her a little. Sure the guy was dumb, but damn, was he big.
But the hatch in the roof was small. It was barely big enough to fit a handyman half Jim Jactons girth. Jill was small, small enough to fit between the bars of the stairway at her house in “rural heaven”, as she referred to her ghetto-ranch low-mid neighborhood, smiling inside.
Opening the hatch?, A breeze. Getting down, like a greased slide. Jill was little miss nimble. Jill had bounce, but lite and fairy-like, unlike bluto-bobby-boy Jim Jacton. Jill knew. A name that snappy had years of getting used to. Like you had to live up to it and be snappy. Jill knew. And her state id card remained deep and hidden in her enigmatic, shifty, springy life.
But Jill had bigger problems. The store was dark, and she had nimble work to do. The register was old looking, but some brainiac basement-head had re-built a 19-somethingsomething antique register into a digital something that bigbob Jacton bragged about until you could grind teeth down with jiffy-butter if you wanted to.
Jill had a key. Not really, but Jill knew, the key was to push the drawer in and flick the switchy thing on the bottom at the same time. So she did. but not before grabbing a tan bucket to put the money in.
Home was 1500 miles away, and Jill had a life to retrieve. A small music box with ribbons and covered with tears. locks of hair, before it had gone black, and coins from years, in the past when people broke out in song in war-time bars. And women were taken by men, gently. Nothing shifty, or bitter or uppity about them, those old times.
But those were for old men. Not nimble short lifers needing air, and to get back to Hilltowne to hold a small ribbon’d box full or airy dreams and old smiles.
Shifty Jill. Jill shift-ing. Shifting between cities, and lifting what’s needed. The register popped open with a sound, and Jill snapped nimbly into action. Big bills were few, but Jill didn’t care anymore. There were buses coming along, dim in the distance to carry her back home to suburban heaven, and distant trees.
There was another sound. Jill had left the register springy open, and was making for the back door, non-alarmed and unlocked from the inside.
And standing in the opening door, was the club bouncer. Bouncy Jim Jacton himself, bumbling with his keys and drooling on his motor-cross tee (he wishes he could be). He looked up. Jill’s mouth said O Shi–
Jim’s eyes got round. His mouth said Oh, hey what are yo–
Jill said, shit. Jim smiled. Jill began to speak, but Jim stopped her, smiled again. mossy teeth in the dark. Jill knew she had decisions to make. About air breathing and shifting through dreams.
I knew you was an urch’n, Jim breathed like a humid smear. But i never thought you’d do this to me. Jill heard something all too man-ish coming. When Jim spoke again, his mouth hanging open for a second before his lips formed the words, maybe we could work something out.. you know- no cops. His grey eyes gleamed.
Jill was nimble. And Jill had experience only hard cement, mysterious forests, and boxes that dont hold water can give. Jill very nimbly formed a plan, one that would get her back to open air, and would keep ribbons and hopes from washing through her hands like water.
She grabbed the bucket. handed it back to Jim and gave him her best “sososo sorry” squeaky grin, with shoulders. After a minute, he smiled strangely and said, sort of weird, that his first name wasn’t Jim at all. It was Jack. Jill’s head swam.
Jill Crown, as proven by a buried ID card, looked at Jack Jackton. She said, shit. Jack smiled, went to take a step forward, and slipped, maybe on his own DNA, and fell down.
Jack was out. Jill sighed. She grabbed the pail and took the first step toward her future, back to Hilltowne to fetch her box of crowns-jewels and water. Down Jack had gone. Then not caring enough, and carelessly, took a step and came tumbling after.
Submitted for the poetry prompt at We Drink Because We are Poets.
link to prompt: Here